application/x-httpd-php content.php PHP script text

Ski de Fond

Switzerland is a world famous ski destination, but embarrassingly, midway through our second winter living here, Melissa still couldn’t brag that she’d ever skied in Switzerland.  That is, until yesterday, when we headed away from the dramatic, steep, slopes of the Alps, to the gentler, flatter, Vallée de Joux in the Jura mountains.  Instead of racing down high alpine slopes for Melissa’s first Swiss skiing experience we slowly glided along scenic trails… on cross-country skis, (called ski de fond in French).  But hey, going cross-country skiing in Switzerland,  still counts as going skiing in Switzerland.

A train into the valley leaves from the station near our apartment once an hour.  As we were preparing to walk to the station we got caught up with packing a lunch, finding the camera, and picking out clothes to wear.  By the time we were out the door we realized we had only 5 minutes to catch the train, and decided to jog the whole way, which luckily allowed us to arrive just seconds before our train left the station.  Out of breath on the train we joked about how annoying it was to have to exercise before getting to our destination where we wanted to exercise.


At 10:15 a.m. we arrived in the town of Le Sentier, after 1 hour and 9 minutes of train travel.  We first stopped at a grocery store for water and snacks that we forgot, then headed to a sports store I found on the internet to rent cross country skis.  The clerk spoke only French, but happily we could understand everything, and the only minor issue was that they didn’t have skis long enough for me, so I just got the longest pair they had.

With skis in hand we were off to find the trail.  Using a low resolution map from the internet it looked like if we walked due west we would eventually run into it.  We walked up a long set of stairs to a high road looking down on the city.  There a woman saw us out of her window, and guessed that we were lost.  She tried to give us directions, but gave up quickly when we stumbled in our French back to her.  We then walked along the road until we found a set of ski tracks in the snow leading into a row of trees. Following the tracks lead to a medium size pasture, and then to the official cross-country ski trail we were looking for.

The official trail was well groomed and in very good shape.  It was about 20 feet across, and divided into three sections: one for walking or snowshoeing, one for classic style cross-country skiing, and one for skate style cross-country skiing.  We both quickly realized we were over dressed for the near freezing temperatures, and took off our winter coats to avoid being drenched in sweat. The warm temperatures made the trail a little melty in sunny spots, and icy in shady spots.  I can’t complain about the weather though, because we had nice clear skies that gave us awesome views of the scenic valley as we skied along.


The skis we rented were thinner than what I was used to for cross country skies, and consequently it felt very hard to control them going down hill.  Trying to snowplow or cut back and forth to slow down didn’t work too well.  The only ways to slow down I found were to drag my poles or go off the main trail into the un-groomed snow.  A couple of times Melissa just took her skis off and walked down the big hills, and I have to admit I did it on the steepest hill we found too.

We skied a total of about 5 km (3 miles) and surprisingly only saw five other skiers on the trail.  We finished up in the town of Le Brassus, where we caught a train back to return the skis, then waited with a beer for the next train to bring us home.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *